Aesthetic Ratings of Photos of the Great Barrier Reef for Online Survey (NESP TWQ 3.2.4, JCU)

This dataset presents the raw data obtained from 1415 online and representative Australian that were asked to aesthetically rate 180 photos of typical coral reef landscapes. Mean aesthetic ratings of 180 photos were collected from the survey, as well as from an expert research team, contributing mean ratings of coral reef health, coral cover, coral pattern, coral topography, fish abundance, and visibility. Please note that CSIRO have published a version of this dataset on 29 May 2019, which should be considered the primary source of data information (i.e. citation for data files found on the CSIRO Portal). The published eAtlas version includes files supplied by the project to the eAtlas for publication. The eAtlas version differs in format (RatingsAesthetics.csv - includes the photo mean score) and includes a second spreadsheet containing information not available in the CSIRO version (Ratings-All.csv) which captures each photo's ratings against five factors (coral health, coral cover, coral topography, fish abundance and visibility), as outlined in point two below. The CSIRO version contains the SPSS data extract and codebook (xlsx file), as well as the photo ratings summary (PhotoRatingsInd.xlsx) without the calculated mean. Methods: 1. A survey was constructed to collect simple demographic information about each participant, the self-rated level of interest in coral reefs, and aesthetic ratings for each photo on a scale of 1-10 (where 1=extremely unattractive, and 10=extremely attractive). Once an individual agreed to partake in the survey, they were sent a survey with 50 photographs randomly chosen from the pool of 181 photographs. It was noted that the quality of responses could be affected if more than 50 photos were viewed (where 50 photos represented a ten-minute survey). The style of the survey was not dissimilar from very popular online games in which individuals are asked to rank aesthetic preferences of fashion or interior design items. A full list of the images used in the survey is available in Appendix 1 (1-90) A total of 1,417 individuals participated in the study, where each photo was rated at least 380 times on the ten-point scale. Twenty-nine percent of the sample came from Queensland, and 71% were distributed across Australia. Some 62.3% of people came from Metropolitan Australia, whilst 37.7 came from rural/regional Australia. Some 51.4% were female. Participants represented a range of experiences with the Great Barrier Reef, where 7.2% had never visited, and 7.9% did not find coral reefs that interesting. Most participants (99.6%) were not part of a GBR based club or community groups, such as a spear-fishing club. The average age for the sample population was 46.96 (standard error=0.471), and ranged from 16 to 89. 2. We identified 180 underwater coral reef photographs from those that were publicly available ( or existed in the combined image libraries of the study authors. They represented typical underwater images from the GBR, with a common oblique perspective taken from approximately 5-10 m above a coral substrate. This perspective characterised the image that a person would see as soon as they placed their head beneath the water, and it was similar to the visual perspective used in monitoring surveys conducted by manta-towing at the Australian Institute of Marine Science. Some photos were duplicated and placed randomly, and some were modified using photo editing software to manipulate one feature independent of others, for the purposes of ‘checking’ the consistency and subtleties associated with making aesthetic judgements. Each photo was rated for each of the five factors (on a scale of low, medium, high) by members of the research team with experience in coral reefs; coral health, coral cover, coral topography, fish abundance, and visibility. Given that there were insufficient photos representing abundant fish and poor visibility, a total of 20 photos were manipulated to enhance or de-emphasise certain factors. These photos ensured that we could attribute differences in aesthetic appeal of each photo to at least one of the five factors. The final set of photos represented realistic coral reef images across all five factors, with a greater representation of images containing moderately high coral cover to capture the nuances across the scale of potential ratings and also to aide engagement during online rating sessions Format: This dataset consists of two CSV files and two PDF files. The two CSV files contain the data on aesthetic ratings from an online survey, and ratings on reef health and abundance. eAtlas Note: The original files were provided as Excel spreadsheet tables and were converted to CSV files. Photographs and analysis were originally supplied as word document files and have been converted to PDF files. References: Marshall, N.A., Marshall, P.A., and Smith, A.K. (2017) Managing for Aesthetic Values in the Great Barrier Reef: Identifying indicators and linking Reef Aesthetics with Reef Health. Report to the National Environmental Science Programme. Reef and Rainforest Research Centre Limited, Cairns (102 pp.). Data Location: This dataset is filed in the eAtlas enduring data repository at: eAtlas/nesp3/3.2.4_Defining-assessing-GBR-aesthetics

Principal Investigator
Nadine Marshall (Dr) CSIRO
Co Investigator
Paul Marshall (Associate Professor, UQ) Reef Ecologic
Co Investigator
Adam Smith (Dr) Reef Ecologic
Co Investigator
Matt Curnock (Dr) CSIRO
Point Of Contact
Nadine Marshall CSIRO

Data collected from 01 Oct 2017 until 30 Oct 2017

Related Websites / Services
Data Usage Constraints
  • Attribution 3.0 Australia